Skin-saving advice for your next flight

After spending hours in the dry air of a plane, skin tends to be dry, dehydrated, and—if we’re being honest—a bit blah. And yet, it is possible to arrive at your destination looking fresh-faced and healthy. (As long as you’re willing to be that person wearing a sheet mask in seat 9B, that is.) Here, Calabasas, California-based dermatologist Anna Guanche, MD explains how jet-setters can maintain a healthy glow from wheels up to the final destination.

During the flight

On a plane, it’s almost impossible for skin to not become dehydrated. “Your home’s average humidity is 30 percent, and on planes, it is 20 percent,” Dr. Guanche explains. That’s why boosting moisture is so important. “A good, high-quality moisturizer and a hyaluronic acid-based serum are key,” Dr. Guanche says.

Start by removing makeup, then apply moisturizer or face oil every three to four hours for continuous hydration. Lips, too, benefit from regular application of balm. If you’re extra dedicated to an in-flight skincare routine (or simply extra overall), add a face mist to the mix; this one from Mario Badescu hydrates with aloe vera and soothes inflammation with rosewater.

Once you’ve reached cruising altitude, a few behavioral choices can make all the difference. Sleeping, obviously, can minimize the effects of a long-haul flight. A silk eye mask encourages deep ZZZs while looking glamorous, even if you’re stuck in the last row of basic economy. When the flight attendant strolls down the aisle with the beverage cart, choose water over other drinks—especially those with alcohol and caffeine. “Coffee is a diuretic that can dehydrate you even more,” Dr. Guanche says. Also, say no to the cute bag of nuts—the salt won’t help matters when it comes to puffiness.

On the ground

There are quite a few things you can do to help dehydrated skin once you’re done with cabin pressure. “A hydrating mask after landing coupled with a light moisturizing serum can do the trick,” Dr. Guanche says. Some of us tend to feel puffiness in our faces as well, so it doesn’t hurt to try some self-massaging techniques. Dr. Guanche suggests hopping on the quartz face roller bandwagon or a simple lymphatic massage (using clean hands, of course).

Before leaving the airport, protect yourself with sunscreen (and wear it on the return flight, too, as UV exposure is greater in a higher altitude). A moisturizer such as Cetaphil Daily Moisturizer with Sunscreen or Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense is a solid choice. Finally, if possible, give yourself a moment before rushing off to explore. “Try to schedule your flights with enough time so that you can at least have a rest in your hotel room at normal altitude before any appearances,” Dr. Guanche says. And with any luck, that’s just enough time to beat jet lag, too.—Andrea Navarro. Feature image by Jessica Bollaci.

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  1. Melissa Melis

    Thank you so much for the advice! It helps me a lot. Greetings Melissa from Belgium

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